Safford v Redding Transcript

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  7/11/13Safford Unified School District v. Redding | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_4791/27 Transcript:ORAL ARGUMENT OF MATTHEW W. WRIGHT ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONERSChief Justice Roberts: We will hear argument first this morning in Case 08-479, Safford Unifed School District v.Redding.Mr. Wright.Mr. Wright: Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court: The search of Savana Redding in this case was constitutionalbecause Mr. Wilson had reason to suspect that she possessed contraband which posed a health and safety risk.Therefore, searching any place where she might be reasonably hiding that contraband was constitutionally permissible.Chief Justice Roberts: Any place, even though he had perhaps no reasonable suspicion to suspect that she was hidingthe contraband in her underwear?Mr. Wright: Your Honor, Mr. Chief Justice, as long as he had reason to suspect, which we believe the evidence doesshow, he was entitled to search any place where the contraband might be reasonably hidden.Chief Justice Roberts: Any place?I mean, prison inmates, for example, are subject to much more intrusive searches.Are you suggesting that would have been justified in this case?Mr. Wright: No, Your Honor.I'm -- I'm suggesting that where it might be reasonably hidden is based on an administrator's experience and certainly isproven out by the reported cases that we've cite in the reply on pages 8 and 9, which are that students often will secreteitems in and under their clothing.That is not an uncommon thing to happen, although these kind of intrusive searches are rare.Justice Scalia: But I -- I think you're really caught in -- in a dilemma here.Your answer suggests that you would not have allowed a cavity search in this case.Mr. Wright: That's correct, Your Honor.Justice Scalia: But people have been known to secrete contraband in -- in bodily cavities.What is the -- what is the principle under which you would allow a strip search but disallow a cavity search?Mr. Wright: The principle is, Your Honor, is that the common experience with schoolchildren, as -- as school officialshave a relation to schoolchildren, is such that they might hide things, and they do hide things, in and under theirclothing.Justice Ginsburg: Was there--Mr. Wright: But--Justice Ginsburg: --Was there prior experience in this particular school?Were there prior occasions on which students had been strip-searched and contraband found?Mr. Wright: --Your Honor, I don't know, and that's not in the record, but I can tell that you that that would not be thethreshold requirement under this Court's prior rulings to justify the search.Justice Ginsburg: But you -- I thought your answer to Justice Scalia was that in the -- in the school's experience,children do hide contraband in their underwear but not in their body cavities.Mr. Wright: Yes, Your Honor.To be more specific, in the nationwide school experience, based on the reported cases that we see, which arecontained in the reply at pages 8 and 9, we find that they hide them in and under clothing, but I don't know of any caseof which I'm aware where there would be items secreted in body cavities.  7/11/13Safford Unified School District v. Redding | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_4792/27 And I -- and I feel, Your Honor, that that is a bright-line area because that -- that is -- that is something that the Courtcan clearly say is off limits.And--Justice Souter: Let me ask you about another bright-line rule that I think you're assuming.You -- you said in the course of describing the justification for this search that one -- one of the points of justification was that there was a health and safety risk.And I assume from the way you put it that you are grouping every drug, prescription or over the counter, as posing ahealth and safety risk; is that correct?Mr. Wright: --Yes, Your Honor.Justice Souter: Why -- why should we accept that -- that blanket assumption?I mean, at some point it gets silly.Having -- having an aspirin tablet does not present a health and safety risk, and yet that's an over-the-counter drug, andpresumably you would have gone through the same search for -- for an aspirin that was conducted here.Mr. Wright: For the very same reasons this Court noted in T.L.O. 25 years ago, Your Honor, and that is that the schoolofficials have deemed, in their judgment, that this is an important rule with regard to health and safety.So--Justice Souter: Oh, and I agree with you, and I -- I don't have any question with this kind of a, let's say, a -- a broadswath of judicial hands-off in determining what is a risk and what isn't.But at some point it becomes sufficiently questionable that I do think we have to raise it.And if your rule would criminalize -- I shouldn't say criminalize -- would put aspirin in the contraband category and justify the kind of search that went on here, I think we've reached the questionable point.And I -- my question to you now is, why haven't we?Mr. Wright: --Well, Your Honor, if -- if an administrator in their judgment, in their reasonable judgment, believes that any -- any drug poses a potential health and safety risk, because they have the custodial and tutelary responsibilities forthose kids -- and it's not like a criminal issue where they're trying to prosecute; this is a case where they're trying toprotect -- because they have those kinds of obligations to provide for the safety of children, to provide an orderlyeducational environment, it is best for this Court to defer to their judgment when they believe that certain rules areimportant and not second-guess those rules.Justice Scalia: Had it been--Mr. Wright: So long--Justice Scalia: --Had it been the case that, as I recall, someone had -- well, students were popping ibuprofen, weren'tthey?Mr. Wright: --Yes, Your Honor.Justice Scalia: I guess they might pop aspirin as well.I'm not aware that one gets a high on either one of those.Somebody in -- in the school had gotten almost fatally ill about a year before this incident; isn't that right?Mr. Wright: Precisely, Your Honor.Justice Scalia: On over-the-counter drugs.Mr. Wright: On a prescription medication that--Justice Scalia: A prescription, not over-the-counter.  7/11/13Safford Unified School District v. Redding | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_4793/27 Mr. Wright: --that a student brought to school and that a student ingested, another student ingested, and then wasairlifted out in an ICU in a near-fatal experience.Justice Ginsburg: What was--Mr. Wright: But just 7 days--Justice Ginsburg: --What was -- what was the drug involved in that case?Mr. Wright: --I don't know, Your Honor, and it's not in the record.Justice Ginsburg: But it certainly was not ibuprofen?Mr. Wright: Again, I don't know, Your Honor.Justice Ginsburg: You said it was a prescription drug.Mr. Wright: It was a prescription drug.And -- and 7 days before this event, Your Honor, just 7 days before, the student informant Romero had taken aprescription drug.Again, I don't know what the type of drug was, but he became violently ill, which caused he and his mother to come talkto the administrator.So we had those two recent events.Justice Ginsburg: Yes, but he -- he was not the one who identified Redding.It was her classmate.Mr. Wright: Her friend Marissa Glines, yes, Your Honor.Justice Ginsburg: And on that classmate's say-so -- was the classmate ever asked, well, when did you get this pill?Where did she give it to you?Mr. Wright: Where -- the question, where did this pill come from, was asked by the administrator.Justice Ginsburg: I mean, what place.I mean, the child is caught with the pills.She blames it on her classmate.She says: She gave them to me.Did the school ever bother to ask when in time she gave them, where in location she gave them?Mr. Wright: No, but that's clear from the record, Your Honor.The reason for that is Jordan Romero said to Mr. Wilson that morning: I just received this pill from Marissa Glines.The plan is that a group of these kids are going to take these pills at noon.So it's contemporaneous.Justice Ginsburg: But it's contemporaneous with the -- with the student who blamed the other child.I'm asking if there's any link other than one child caught with the pills blurts out that it was someone else?The tip from the young man had nothing to do with Redding; it had to do with Glines.Mr. Wright: But the tip from the young man goes to Glines, and the young man's tip becomes reliable when Glinesproduces the fistful of pills that he said she would have, plus other pills.Justice Ginsburg: Maybe it becomes reliable as to her, but it has nothing to do with Redding.Mr. Wright: But, Your Honor, then it ties in with the -- with the contraband -- excuse me -- the planner that was laid open  7/11/13Safford Unified School District v. Redding | The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2008/2008_08_4794/27 before Mr. Wilson when he subsequently searches Savana Redding, and she admits to him that that was her planner,but she denies any knowledge of the contents.So did Marissa Glines.So--Justice Scalia: Did the school know what -- what particular pills it was searching for?Mr. Wright: --Not--Justice Scalia: Did it know that -- what -- what the threat was was ibuprofen or aspirin or -- or some prescription drug?Mr. Wright: --Not comprehensively, Your Honor.What they knew was there was IBU 400s in an OTC pill that was later identified.But he also knew there was a variety of pills.What Mr. Wilson did not know--Justice Scalia: How did he know it was an OTC pill?Mr. Wright: --Because he--Justice Scalia: Just by looking at it?Mr. Wright: --called poison control.Justice Scalia: Okay.Mr. Wright: And -- and once that was assessed--Justice Scalia: What was in it?Did he say--Mr. Wright: --It was Naprosyn 200 milligrams.And -- and, Your Honor, what -- that's a good point because what Mr. Wilson doesn't know is what other pills might beout there.He knows there's a variety of pills, but he doesn't know of what type.He doesn't know what amount.Justice Souter: Have you ever made -- has your side of the case ever made the argument that it needs this sort ofblanket classification rule, any drug over the counter or prescription, because when a, a pill is found, they're notpharmacists, they don't know what it is, and therefore they've got to have a blanket rule or they simply cannot acteffectively?I did not see that argument in the briefs.Has that argument been raised at any point?Mr. Wright: Precisely, Your Honor.We have argued that our administrators are not pharmacologically trained.Justice Souter: Where did you argue it?I mean, I want to know whether that argument is in the case.Mr. Wright: It's in the briefs.Justice Souter: Is it?I don't remember it.
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